Founded over a century ago by Gleason Leonard Archer, the Suffolk University Law School (Suffolk Law) was created to educate immigrants and minorities who were traditionally excluded from most law schools. Suffolk Law is one of the oldest law schools in the New England region. The law school opened its doors to female students in the late 1930’s. Today, Suffolk Law still attracts a diverse student body that are drawn to the school’s national reputation in practical, skill-based learning in legal writing and dispute resolution. Suffolk Law’s alumni have served on numerous state Supreme Court benches and currently maintain a strong plurality in the Massachusetts Legislature. Arguably the most famous alumni, however, is the fictional lawyer played by Dylan McDermott on the television show The Practice.
Suffolk Law offers both a full-time, day program and an evening, part-time program for its Juris Doctor degree. The day program has both a three year and a two year, accelerated option. The evening program may be completed in either three or four years. All programs require a total of 84 credit hours for graduation. All students are required to take the traditional six core courses of the American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. First-year students also take a course in legal practice skills that introduces students to foundational skills of practicing law. All students are also required to complete a course in professional responsibility in their first year and must satisfy the requirement for experiential education and complete an upper-level writing requirement.
The remainder of the curriculum is comprised of electives chosen by students to meet their academic and professional goals. Suffolk Law encourages all students to take at least one perspective course that offers an opportunity to study the impact and broader role that law plays in society. Suffolk Law also offers students six distinct concentrations that allow students to earn a certification in certain practice areas. Additionally, students may opt to follow one of the almost 20 focus areas that suggest courses of study to master certain practice areas.
Suffolk Law offers a number of additional graduate programs in addition to its flexible J.D. curriculum. Students who have completed their Juris Doctor degree (or its foreign equivalent) may pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree focused on either a general course of study or a focused area. The general LL.M requires 24 hours of study for U.S. students and 22 hours for foreign students. Students choose their own electives from Suffolk Law’s extensive course catalog. Students may also pursue an LL.M focused on Global Law and Technology. This program also requires 24 hours of coursework for completion and provides students with a firm command of the academic background for the practice area. Both LL.M options require a writing project for graduation.
J.D. candidates at Suffolk Law have the option of pursuing an LL.M focused on taxation concurrently with their Juris Doctor degree. The program allows students to earn both degrees in a total of four years. Students enrolled in the program follow a slightly modified first and second-year curriculum in order to introduce them to the fundamentals of tax law early in the curriculum.
Suffolk Law also offers a Master of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) to students who have completed their J.D. and LL.M degree but wish to continue pursuing an area of legal scholarship. Much like a Ph.D in other disciplines, the S.J.D. requires extensive research and writing in a particular field of legal academia. Candidates for the S.J.D are required to complete a publishable dissertation.
Non-attorneys may pursue a unique Master of the Science in Law (M.S.L.) focused on the life sciences. This degree is designed to provide non-attorney in the science field with a rigorous background in the complex laws that touch upon their industry. The program requires 10 courses totaling 30 hours of classroom work although students have the option of waiving out of certain requirements depending on their previous education.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome statistics, over 88% of all graduates of Suffolk Law are employed within 10 months of graduation. Furthermore, 93% of those who are employed find careers that either requires a law license or prefers a Juris Doctor degree. Over half of employed students (53.5%) opted for traditional law firm work with small law firms of 1 to 10 attorney being the most popular choice. Mid-sized law firms ranging from 11 to 100 attorneys were also a common career choice for graduates. Almost a quarter of employed graduates found careers in the business sector while another large percentage found work in government offices or the public interest sector (17%). Roughly 5% of graduates earned judicial clerkships in either the federal or state court system. For employed graduates, 80% remained in Massachusetts to begin their professional careers with smaller percentages opting for careers in New York and Rhode Island.
With a staff of eight professional (most of which are former attorneys), the Office of Professional and Career Development (OPCD) at Suffolk Law offers students a wide range of career services to help them prepare their professional profile, define their career goals, and build a strategy to accomplish those goals. Aside from individual counseling, the OPCD provides student the tools to build their resumes, practice interview skills, and begin to build a professional network. The OPCD also works closely with the school’s experiential education programs to make sure that graduates are equipped with the practical skills to succeed in their professional careers.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Suffolk Law builds practical skills in all graduates through clinical and externship programs as well as unique course offerings in their innovation lab. Suffolk Law’s clinical program is a nationally recognized program that offers students the opportunity to practice law under the supervision of a practicing faculty member. Students have the opportunity to work in one of 12 different practice areas that span the entire range of the legal profession. The clinic also requires extensive assessment so that students can learn from their experience.
The law school’s externship program allows students to spend a semester in practice in either a domestic or international law office. The externship program places students alongside working attorneys in a variety of law offices. Students learn by doing while also experiencing the daily life of practicing attorneys. Externships also provide students a unique opportunity to begin building their professional network.
Students also have the opportunity to participate in unique and innovative experiential programs at Suffolk Law including the Legal Innovation and Technology Law or the Accelerate to Practice program. The innovation lab functions much like a clinic as students work in the research and development field of technology. The Accelerate to Practice program prepares students to open and build their own law practices upon graduation.
Much like its history, Suffolk Law today is built around offering opportunities to all its students. At the center of the law school’s mission is increasing diversity in the legal profession. The student body and its corresponding student organization reflect this mission. Throughout the school year, the law school hosts various programs to connect the law school to the diverse Boston community it serves. Each year, the law school invites area high school students to its moot court competitions and brings indigenous tribes to campus to collaborate in their clinical program. The student body is also know for its innovation and commitment to technology.
Suffolk Law school campus is located on the edge of Boston’s famous commons and a short distance from the Boston harbor. This location places the school in walking distance of the state legislature and court system. Students enjoy the prime location as well as the easy access to Boston many affordable neighborhoods. The city of Boston is one of the nation’s most unique and historic. At Suffolk Law, students enjoy all the city has to offer.